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Cpl. Clinton (Casey) Firstbrook

a graduate of New Prague High School, sent this update on his status with the U.S. Marines:

“Just wanted to update you guys on my situation. I'm currently deployed to Baghdad where I work for the Scimitar newspaper and the Baghdad American Forces Network news station. I arrived August 10 and will be staying until the first or second week of February. Unless of course I volunteer for another six-month stint like the one I’m on right now. A possibility, but I'm not really sure yet. After all, I just got here.

If you have any questions about what it's like over here, what I've done so far, anything at all. Just shoot me an e-mail and I'll see what I can do. My address over this way is as follows:

Cpl. Clinton Firstbrook



APO AE 09316

Spc. David J. Shimota

of Veseli has returned to Mosul, Iraq. Shimota spent two weeks at home with his wife, Leslie, and their newborn son, Dylan. He also spent time visiting with family members and friends. Spc. Shimota arrived in time to see the birth of his son, Dylan, on July 16. He has been stationed in Iraq since November, 2003, with the Stryker Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Ft. Lewis, WA. He is scheduled to stay there until November. When Shimota left Iraq earlier this month, the temperature was 126 degrees, so his visit home gave him the opportunity to cool off.

He enjoyed his short stay, and said it was hard to say good bye, but he has a job to do and he knows he has the support of his family and friends. Spc. Shimota is the son of Arnie and Vicky Shimota of Veseli. His address is: Spc Shimota, David J., ACO 2-3 INF 3rd SBCT, APO AE 09385

Shane Connell

of the 1st Infantry Div., 1-77 AR stationed in Iraq was promoted to Specialist on August 1. He is the son of Jolene Pierson of New Prague and Patrick Connell of Apple Valley, and a 2002 New Prague High School graduate. His address is: Task Force HHC 1/77 AR BN, LSA Anaconda, APO AE 09392.

Army PFC Matt Bergstrom

son Brenda and Jeff Bergstrom of New Prague, has returned to Ft. Drum, NY, after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. He is a member of the 41st Engineer Batallion, and worked in mine removal and guard duty while overseas. His parents hosted an open house for him at their home in New Prague on May 28.

Army National Guard Specialists Joshua Weckman and Steve Tuma

members of the 34th Military Police unit in Rosemount, recently returned home from their deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they participated in the Stabilization Force peacekeeping mission since July 2003. While in Bosnia they were responsible for providing security and obtaining military intelligence. Spc. Weckman is the son of Larry and Diane Weckman of New Prague and a 1998 graduate of New Prague High School. Spc. Tuma is the son of Ray and Lois Tuma of Lonsdale and a 2001 graduate of New Prague High School.

Lance Corporal Ryan Bruzek

of the 1st Marine Division, Alpha Company, was deployed to Iraq on February 28. He is the son of David and Elizabeth Bruzek of Montgomery and a 2001 graduate of Montgomery-Lonsdale High School. His wife, Kimberly, will remain at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, CA. His address is Lcpl Bruzek, Ryan R., USMC, 3rd AA BN A Co. 1st PLT, UIC 40565, FPO AP 96426-0565

Army Reserve Pvt. Jeffrey D. Dalsted

has graduated from the automated logistical specialist advanced individual training (AIT) course at Fort Lee, Petersburg, Va. He was trained to establish and maintain stock records and other documents such as inventory, material control, accounting and support reports, automated and manual accounting records; review and verify bills of lading, contracts, and purchase orders; repair and construct shipping crates for equipment and supplies; and perform prescribed loads and shop stock lists in manual and automated supply applications. The 2003 graduate of Farmington High School is the son of Kristen A. Dalsted of Farmington and Jeffrey L. Dalsted of New Prague.

2nd Lt. Jacob Helgestad

of New Prague was granted personal leave from his deployment at Hohensfel, Germany, to come home to witness the birth of his daughter, Lucia Emma Helgestad. He remained in New Prague for one week, returning to Germany on February 9. The same day he returned to his Unit in Germany was the same day they began transporting Minnesota National Guard troops to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. Lt. Helgestad is serving his deployment with the 2/135 Infantry, Bravo Company as part of KFOR mission. His address in Kosovo is: Lt Jacob Helgestad, B-Co, 2/125 IN, Camp Bondsteel, APO, AE 09340. He is the son of Jim and Pauline Helgestad of New Prague

PFC William Bardon

has been deployed with the U.S. Army to Baghdad, Iraq, arriving there on February 1. After completing basic training and AIT as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic in July at Fort Jackson, SC, he had been stationed in Fort Hood, TX. His unit from Fort Hood left first for Kuwait on January 3, then convoyed into Iraq. Bardon will serve in Baghdad for 12 to 18 months as a mechanic for a communications unit, the 57th Signal Battalion. Bardon is the son of Mary and Brad Bardon and is a 2002 graduate of New Prague High School. His address in Iraq is: PFC William Bardon, 3rd Sig. Bde, DCO-57th Sig Btn., APO, AE 09342-91400.

Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin L. Navratil Jr.

son of Jody and Kevin Navratil of New Prague, recently participated in the seizure of an estimated 2,800 pounds of hashish with an estimated value of $11 million after intercepting a small Arabian sea vessel in the North Arabian Sea. Navratil is assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), based in Camp Pendleton, CA. These interceptions are designed to hinder the funding of terrorist organizations by denying the use of the seas for the smuggling of illegal contraband. This is the third such interception by coalition maritime forces in recent weeks. Navratil's unit is an expeditionary intervention force with the ability to rapidly organize for combat operations in virtually any environment. MEUs are composed of more than 2, 000 personnel and are divided into an infantry battalion, aircraft squadron, support group and command element. With this combination, Navratil's unit supplies and sustains itself for quick mission accomplishment and for clearing the way for follow-on forces. Navratil joined the Marine Corps in November 1998.

Kyle J. Freundl

son of Keith and Cherie Freundl of Owatonna and grandson of Rose V. Turek of New Prague and the late Ben R. Turek, was promoted to the grade of Major, United States Air Force, on December 1, 2003, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH. Serving in the Air Force for the past 10 1/2 years, he was commissioned after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering. His first assignment was as a Minuteman III ICBM combat crew member at Vandenberg AFB, CA, and continued at FE Warren AFB, WY, for four years. During this time he completed an MBA degree, with an emphasis on operations management, from Regis University. In 1998, he moved to Ohio, where he served as a staff officer at the Air Force Material Command Headquarters, Engineering Directorate, Special Projects Branch, at Wright-Patterson AFB. In 1999, he attended the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he received his second masters, in electrical engineering with an emphasis on low-observables (stealth). He is currently a project engineer for the Air Force Research Lab, Sensors Directorate, Measurements and Predictions Branch. Kyle lives in Centerville, OH, with his son, Jacob, and wife, Kim. They are expecting their second child this spring.

Army Reserve Spec. David J. Devney

has been recalled to active duty to support the missions of Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. Devney, who has two years of military service, is a heavy equipment operator normally assigned to the 367th Engineer Battalion in Mankato. He is the son of Kathy J. and Joseph C. Devney of New Prague, and is a 2001 graduate of New Prague High School.

Air Force Capt. Timothy B. Rezac

has deployed to an overseas forward operating location to support the missions of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The captain is a B-1 pilot with four years of military service. He is the son of Ben and Pat Rezac of Lonsdale. Rezac graduated in 1995 from New Prague High School, and received a bachelor's degree in 1999 from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Army National Guard Pfc. Amy M. Jabas

has deployed to the Serbian province of Kosovo to support the mission of Operation Joint Guardian. The operation is a NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force, or KFOR, to help ensure order, peace, and stability in Kosovo for all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origins. Military forces from the United States and 13 other nations are part of the KFOR organization. U.S. military forces support KFOR by providing the headquarters and troops for NATO sectors, and provide manpower, units and equipment to other components of the KFOR organizations. Jabas is a finance specialist assigned to the 147th Finance Battalion, in Hanau, Germany. She is the daughter of Michael and Maggie Jabas of New Prague, and a 2001 graduate of New Prague High School.

Army National Guard Spec. Timothy J. O'Connell

was deployed on August 12. 2003, on his 21st birthday. He is now stationed in Italy providing security at a military installation. He plans on returning to his studies at the University of St Thomas in St. Paul when his deployment is over. He is the son of Kenny and Debbie O'Connell of St. Thomas.

The Retired Enlisted Association

or TREA, is looking for new members in the New Prague area. TREA fights for the benefits earned by the retired enlisted members of the Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve. Present day members of the military are eligible to join if they have 10 or more years of retirement creditable service. Call Mark Davidson, TREA Central Minnesota Chapter 115, at 952-884-6077, mailing address of: 10007 Harriet Ave. S., Bloomington MN 55420, or send an e-mail to:

Pvt. Brad Joseph Tharalson

a graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School in Iowa, completed his United States Marine Corps recruit training November 7 at MCRD in San Diego, CA. During recruit training, Pvt. Tharaldson learned military customs and courtesies, first aid and a variety of related subjects designed to create the moral and physical discipline required of a U.S. Marine. He has now returned for combat training in Camp Pendleton, CA, and then will head to his formal school for field artillery. He is the grandson of Joe and Gladys Tupy of Owatonna, formerly of New Prague.

Specialist Blake McMahon

724 Engineering Battalion of the US Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq in March of 2003. He was born in New Prague and is the grandson of Harold and Terry McMahon of New Prague and son of Dave and Diane McMahon of Tomahawk, WI. He is home for a two-week leave from Iraq from Dec 14-28.

Spc. James Dotson

a 2000 New Prague High School graduate, is currently serving with the 978th MP Company in Iraq.His address is Spc. Dotson, James, 978 MP Company, Unit 92647, APO AE 09302-1440.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Slavik

a 1999 graduate of New Prague High School has been deployed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, which left port August 25. The ship is undergoing training along the East Coast, and will be sent to the Mediterranean later this month, awaiting future deployment. Slavik works with F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jets out of Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, VA. The Enterprise plans to return in February or March of 2004. His current email address is Slavik's fiancee, Michelle Mollica, and son, Kraigen Mollica, recently moved to New Prague to stay with family. Slavik is the son of Mariann Slavik of New Prague and James Slavik of Shakopee.

Capt. Joseph J. Sharkey

recently returned home to Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, CO, after serving with the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq. Sharkey will continue working with the 43rdArea Support Group at Fort Carson as a supply officer. His address is Captain Joseph J. Sharkey, HHC, 43rdArea SupportGroup, APO AE, 09366. He is the son of Margaret Sharkey of Elko and the late Dennis Sharkey.

Mark Busch

has recently been promoted to the rank of Senior Airman at a location in the Middle East. Busch is a Force Protection worker in an Air Expeditionary Wing. Busch joined the United States Air Force on June 21, 2000, at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Busch is the son of Melvin and Marilynne Busch of Jordan.

Army Captain Aaron Justice

a 1991 graduate of New Prague High School, Reserve unit was activated in February 2003. The son of former New Prague residents, John and Carol Justice, is currently the commander of the 1172nd Movement Control Team (MCT). Aaron's Reserve unit is based out of Bamberg, Germany. The 1172nd spent two months in Germany before deploying to Kuwait in May. His current address is CPT Aaron Justice, 1172nd MCT, Camp Virginia Kuwait, APO AE 09327.

Ryan Bartusek

son of Pat Bartusek of New Prague and the late Elmer Bartusek and a 2002 graduate of New Prague High School, has been deployed to Iraq. Bartusek enlisted August 14, 2002, and graduated from Infantry Training Brigade Company B 2/19 Battalion in Ft. Benning, GA, on November 27, 2002. He was transferred to Fort Hood, TX, Headquarters in the Replacement Infantry Division and was sent to Kuwait on May 27, and then to Iraq. He is serving with the 4th Infantry Division. His address is PV2 Bartusek, Ryan, 1-22 IN/1Bde/4ID, Unit#92597, APO AE 09323-2597.

United States Marine Corporal Clinton Casey Firstbrook IV

recently returned from a two-year assignment in Iwakuni, Japan and will ship out for his new assignment in Washington D.C. on Sunday, July 27. Firstbrook, son of the Rev. Clinton and Jane Firstbrook, is a 2001 graduate of New Prague High School. While stationed in Japan, Firstbrook worked for the base's mass communications department. He wrote for the newspaper, was a TV news anchor, worked on the radio and helped create TV commercials. Firstbrook was at Iwakuni from May 30, 2002 to June 28 of this year. In Washington, he will be at the Marines' broadcasting center, YOUR Corps. Hopefully during my two year tour there they'll send me off to the Middle East

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